Home Page > News Item > MEXICO: young journalist shot dead in Michoacán

RAN 41/10 14 July 2010

The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN (WiPC) protests the fatal shooting of 27-year-old journalist and editor Hugo Alfredo Olivera Cartas, whose body was found on 6 July 2010. He had left his newspaper office in Apatzingán, Michoacán state, to cover a story the previous night. Olivera’s death brings the number of print journalists killed in Mexico in 2010 to eight; three more print journalists have gone missing in the country this year. The WiPC calls on the federal and state authorities to investigate Olivera’s murder as a matter of the utmost urgency, and to bring the culprits to justice.

Hugo Alfredo Olivera Cartas (27), owner and editor of the Apatzingán-based local daily newspaper El Día de Michoacán, went missing on the evening of 5 July 2010 after receiving a phone call and setting off from the newspaper office to cover a story. He reportedly called his wife shortly after leaving and told her to “take care of the children.” His body was found in the early hours of the next morning in his vehicle in a rural area near Apatzingán; he had been shot three times in the head. The same morning, unidentified individuals reportedly entered the offices of El Día de Michoacán and stole computer hard disks and memory storage devices.

The motive for the murder is as yet unknown. However, Michoacán governor Leonel Godoy Rangel has been quoted in local press reports as saying that it bore the hallmarks of an organised crime killing.

Olivera, who was also owner and editor of the regional news agency ADN as well as correspondent for the daily regional newspaper La Voz de Michoacán and the news agency Quadratín, had covered crime in the Apatzingán area for the past two years. He is not known to have reported receiving any threats prior to his death. However, in February 2010, he reportedly filed a complaint with the National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH) accusing members of the federal police of assaulting him while he was covering a murder on 18 February.

Olivera leaves behind a widow and two children, aged 5 years and 5 months.

Background
Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. Since January 2004, a total of 35 writers – 34 print journalists and one author – have been murdered, while nine other print journalists have disappeared. Eight of the killings have occurred in 2010 alone. Few if any of these crimes have been properly investigated or punished. International PEN believes that it is likely that these journalists were targeted in retaliation for their critical reporting, particularly on drug trafficking. While organised crime groups are responsible for many attacks, state agents, especially government officials and the police, are reportedly the main perpetrators of violence against journalists, and complicit in its continuance.

Useful links

•Report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) (6 July 2010): http://cpj.org/2010/07/mexican-reporter-shot-to-death-in-michoacan-state.php (English), http://cpj.org/es/2010/07/reportero-mexicano-asesinado-a-tiros-en-michoacan.php (Spanish)
•Report by Reporters Without Borders (7 July 2010): http://en.rsf.org/mexico-journalist-found-shot-dead-in-07-07-2010,37892.html (English), http://es.rsf.org/mexico-otro-periodista-es-asesinado-en-el-07-07-2010,37891.html (Spanish)

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